Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Canada 2012 Day 12

The sun is up! And with its warmth it dispelled the nightmarish
memories of the previous day. We still had to contend with mosquitoes,
but by now we were deft hands at that, and managed to enjoy our
morning coffee and tea [I had a difficult time emerging from the
tent!], a hot shower (National Park Canadian campgrounds are very
reasonably priced at $25 for a tent site, and provide all the hot
water your heart may desire), and a romantic walk along the beach.

Breakfast was a bit more challenging, because the stove was in one of
its most cantankerous moods. Let me go back a bit and tell you that,
as we were planning this trip, Annie announced that she was going to
buy this hoity toidy campstove at REI, because “I could simply not
survive without it”. That rubbed me the wrong way, and I told her that
I had a perfectly good stove I had bought at a garage sale for a
dollar, and that was the one we were taking, and basta! My stove is
the tinniest thing in the world, since it is a simple burner that
screws on top of the propane cylinder we had bought in Montreal. Up to
this day it had behaved reasonably well, and I had cooked some fine
meals with it, but today it was possessed by the devil and it would
keep going off (the flame would just blow itself off, and I had to
relight it every few seconds). Trying to cook our breakfast was an
ordeal, and I used some very choice language as the main spice (f...,
f..., f...!, and f... a duck!, to mention but a few). And all along
Annie stared at me with her golden eyes, not saying a thing. Ah, but I
know what she was thinking! She was silently rubbing in the
infallibility of her expensive REI stove [I would NEVER do such a
thing!], which put me in an even fouler mood.  [‘tis true!]

Now, today the plan was to leisurely bike the length of the Green
Gables National Park, but looking at the map I noticed that the road
was not continuous. Rather, it was interrupted across the mouth of
every bay, so one would have to backtrack to the trunk road (Highway
6) every time. It made a lot more sense to follow Highway 6, which the
map showed to be a scenic highway, all the way from the east to the
west ends of the park. Well, it was a very scenic highway, but once
again there was no shoulder and we had to ride at the very edge of the
car lane, and the roller coaster topography was alive and well. You
might think that it would be fun to fly on the downside of the hills,
but I can assure you that the upside of the hills sucks out your
strength in no time whatsoever. As if this was not enough, a new
torture was added to our Calvary in the form of endless strings of
weekend motorcycle riders. Apparently the roller coaster topography of
the island attracts motorcycle clubs from all over the mainland, and
these weekend warriors revel in traveling in large packs, opening
their mufflers so everyone can hear the roar of their engines, and
scaring the living daylights out of innocent bicycle riders.

A delightful moment of peace came around 1 pm, when we reached the
small town of North Rustico and saw the placard for The Old Bakery
Shop. We have settled on bakeries as a great place to have a snack,
and this was one of the best we sampled. We ordered two cups of sweet
milk coffee, a meat pie (a delightfully flakey crust surrounding a
tasty stew of pulled pork), and a cherry turnover, and sat in the
veranda to admire the landscape. PEI is not about majestic landscapes,
but the sloping alfalfa or potato fields, the quaint farmhouses with
their copses of wood, and the bays extending their long arms unto the
land form a mosaic of quiet pastoral beauty. A very livable place

Finally, by 3:30 pm and quite hot and bothered, we reached the Green
Gables site, in the township of Cavendish, and just about 30 km from
our Stanhope campground. I should preface the following by saying that
as a girl Annie was (and still is) a great fan of the novel of Anne of
Green Gables and its sequels, so coming to see the place where the
novels were inspired was a very exciting moment for her. The author of
the books, Lucy Maud Montgomery, was born in the nearby town of New
London and later lived in Cavendish, but the House of Green Gables
actually belonged to cousins of her. The house and the grounds have
been recently restored (at some point the grounds had been razed and
covered with grass as part of a golf course), so the aficionados can
not only go through the house, but also see Mathew’s barn, or go for
walks along Lover’s Lane or the Haunted Forest. I remember only
vaguely the local of the story, and kept asking if Anne had ever gone
to Charlottetown, or had complained about the mosquitoes, until one of
the young docents looked at me very seriously and said “you know, Anne
was a fictional character”. So now I have to go back and read the
books, to see how much of the island did L.M. Montgomery portrayed in
her books.

Having satisfied Annie’s desires for being locus quo where her
childhood heroine had been, and having spent a few Canadian dollars in
the gift shop, (I must add – it was more heavenly than I had even
imagined! Exquisite – and I could have stayed forever!) we biked the
short distance to the campground. We were given the choice of a windy
site overlooking the beach, or a sheltered site in the woods, we
selected—based on past experience—the windy site and had an easy
afternoon pitching the tent, cooking dinner (with many more expletives
on my side and a very condescending look on Annie’s side), and
watching the sunset. Once again, life is good.  [No! Life was
absolutely amazingly delicious!  Together in such a little piece of
heaven!  Ah!  And NEVER have I seen such a beach camping site! Right
there on top of the mini dunes overlooking the beautiful water!]

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